a vast flood of random web/legal curiosities

  • Hello ABA Journal readers. Welcome to my blog! You may want to look at the copyright license this blog is under, and my explanation of Why I Blog. You may also want to subscribe only to the law feed, since much of what I write about is technology or personal. Law feed posts are guaranteed to have at least some legal content :)
  • I’m very curious how Dell is shipping DVD playing Linux boxes, legally-speaking. Anyone have any pointers?
  • Tim: the law says nothing about sports bars, but I seem to recall (can’t find it right now) that it has regulations on number of screens in a location and size of the location, which would cover sports bars pretty well.
  • Mostly, I think my curriculum this semester is completely, gobstoppingly awesome, and something I could probably get only at Columbia. But I am slightly jealous of this. Also possibly this.
  • purpose driven voluntary sector.‘ Wordy, but I like it.
  • The QA version of Yin and Yang. No one in FLOSS does this well yet, but I do believe that with the right (fairly small) investment it could be done. I offered to build it for Canonical, they turned me down, and I’m very glad they did, given that I ended up in a much better position. Still, would have been interesting to try.
  • Best post on the weird cease and desist copyright ruling.
  • HP’s new FLOSS stuff is interesting, especially the ‘FOSSBazaar’ where policies and whitepapers on implementation are exchanged. Is there the critical mass to really make it a functional community? I don’t know, but it will be very interesting to see.
  • There are now recordings available of the ‘Computing in the Cloud’ workshop I attended one day of last month. I’m not sure there was a whole lot new said there, but probably very interesting for those catching up on the issue.
  • Great Eben Moglen quote on why free software and capitalism can be very cozy buddies, from a good (though poorly formatted) LinuxWorld interview:
    • “The primary desire that businesses have is for control over their own destinies, for avoidance of autonomy bottlenecks which put the fate of their business into the hands of someone else. The difficulty that they experience — that they call vendor lock-in, or noninteroperability — is a difficulty which is really a businessman’s equivalent of [Free Software Foundation President Richard] Stallman’s frustration at unfreedom. They are essentially the same recognition: In a world of complex, interdependent technology, if I don’t control my technology, it will control me. Stallman’s understanding of that proposition and Goldman Sachs’ understanding [for example] needn’t be as far apart as one might think. The desire to maintain autonomy — the desire to avoid control of destiny by outside parties — is as fierce in both cases as it can get.”
  • Seven stunning facts about Microsoft’s profits. Not-so-stunning fact number eight. :) Some people still don’t get it, though; they don’t seem to realize that part of the reason for the modern explosion in innovation on the web and elsewhere is in large part because Microsoft has felt legally constrained in the kinds of threats they can now make against competitors. Do you really think Office for Mac would exist now if not for the DOJ case? And if Office for Mac didn’t exist, do you really think OSX would be a viable competitor? If the answer to either of those is ‘yes’, you’re on some very good drugs and I’d like to know where you got them. :)
  • thoughtfix: Creating a new category of device is all well and good, but I’m still waiting to hear anyone say ‘you know what I’d like? a device with all the functionality of an iPhone, but without a permanent internet connection.’ That is, for most people, what this ‘new category’ is- tablet (check) with lots of internet-enabled features (check) with an internet connection (check) that isn’t always on and I can’t call my friends on (FAIL.) It is certainly true that the N810 has slightly more functionality, since it isn’t crippled by the cell carriers (e.g., the iChat that isn’t really iChat on the iPhone) and since it has an open SDK. But for most people the core functionality they want is phone, email, and web, and iPhone does those much better than N810 because of its always on cell connection. So again… yes, maybe N* is a new category. But it isn’t a category anyone actually wants, sadly- the subtly increased functionality does not make up for the substantially reduced convenience for all but a very small, very unusual group of consumers. (Even when WiMax covers major cities, it’ll still be unreliable in other places- and iPhones will be good for that and the current generation of N-tablets will be bad.)
  • [Politics warning]: Danah Boyd finds Davos to be… pro-Obama? Weird. Good, but weird. Andrew Sullivan summarizes why gay people should be squarely in the Obama camp- he actually has the guts to tell churches things they don’t like to hear. And also links to Obama’s consistent position on the war, and how that impacts electability. Less Obama-specific: “On why it matters when candidates treat voters like fools.